Editorial: All lost in quest to have all of it

By Annemarie Quill


The feminist bra slingers of the '70s may have thought they had balls, but they certainly were not crystal.

If they could have seen the future of female roles perhaps they would have kept their aprons on.

Where has the freedom that the sisters in flares fought for actually got us?

For many women, it has got them into a 40-hour-plus job outside the home, with relative strangers looking after the kids.

The kitchen sink that the '70s women desperately wanted to tear themselves away from is still there in all its glory when we get home from work.

Most working women do two fulltime jobs, the second round of housework fitted in before or after work.

As for the men ... for some of them, life has only got better.

As James Fuller reported on Saturday, statistics show more men are taking parental leave entitlement, and the number of husbands remaining at home to raise their children is on the rise, leaving the mother as the main breadwinner.

If this suits the family, this reversal of traditional gender roles is to be applauded.

Dads add different dimensions to children's upbringing - as the Grimshaws in James' story demonstrate - their kids not only have a closer relationship with their father, but they get to do kayaking and fishing with Dad.

Some scoff at stay-at-home dads, envying their apparent life of Riley, suspecting they swap coffee mornings for beer lunches, and Dr Phil for Sky Sports. But this is no more true than it is for stay-at-home mums. Others may fear that under dad's watch, the house turns into a bomb site, leaving it for mum to fix when she peels off from her day job.

In my view, whether it is dad or mum, it is preferable to have one parent at home if it makes financial sense.

As the Hargreaves family in James' report found, by the time they paid childcare, they were only $10 better off working.

With costs of daycare and after-schoolcare rising, having one parent at home not only makes economic sense. With some unfortunate exceptions, most children are better off being looked after by their parents.

I never understand why the Government gives so much funding to childcare businesses. If that was directed back at families they would be able to afford to have one parent working, and one at home.

Ironically this stay-at-home role that the feminists saw as slavery is now more treasured. Rightly so. What role could be more important that bringing up your own children?

Men are relishing the job. Good on them.

That leaves women questioning why, in some misguided attempted to have it all, they gave it all up.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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